Brown battle heads to court

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AIKEN - The battle over James Brown's estate will land in an Aiken County courtroom today.

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Levenson  Special
Special
Levenson

A flurry of court filings in recent weeks has led to a 10 a.m. hearing in front of Judge Jack Early, who has been asked to make tough decisions that contradict the singer's will.

Today's hearing, one attorney predicted, certainly won't be the last legal volley over the music legend's legacy.

"This is just the beginning of a potentially long road," said Robert Rosen, the Charleston attorney representing the singer's fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie Brown.

She's just one of several people who have challenged the singer's last wishes.

She wants her share of his estate as Mr. Brown's "omitted spouse." She also wants the retrieval from his Beech Island home of her belongings and those of her 5-year-old son, James Brown II, who was born after the will was drafted.

The six children he named in his will want his three advisers removed as his personal representatives, alleging mismanagement of their father's estate.

There also might be some clarification over the two trusts - the James Brown I Feel Good Trust and the James Brown Family Education Trust - that Mr. Brown set up.

For the moment, Mr. Rosen said, the issue is about his will, not the trusts. That will come later, he hinted.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," he said.

Mrs. Brown's position is that the trusts are not separate from the singer's estate - they're part of it, Mr. Rosen explained.

He speculated that the children might argue a different position - that the trusts don't exist at all.

They challenged the singer's will first on Feb. 1, asking for the removal of the trustees.

Among the allegations contained in their lengthy petition were that Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon have mismanaged the music legend's estate and that assets - including the rights to his music - were in danger of being lost.

The singer's widow came next, but she hasn't asked that the three men be removed. She instead asked that a special administrator be appointed to work with them.

Mr. Dallas has said all along that by trying to remove him and the other two advisers, Mr. Brown's children are violating their father's wishes.

The singer chose them to represent him after his death, Mr. Dallas said.

"It's unpleasant and unfortunate that his children don't like the decisions he made about his estate," he said. "This is what he wanted done, and he left it in writing."

He and his two colleagues fired back in their own filings Wednesday, arguing that Mrs. Brown's marriage to the singer was not valid because she was still married to a Pakistani man when she and Mr. Brown married.

A Charleston judge's ruling that her first marriage was void from the start doesn't legalize her marriage to Mr. Brown, their petition argues, and they never remarried.

In a separate petition, they denied the allegations by the children that they've mismanaged the estate and that they took a document from the home.

They allege that some of Mr. Brown's children have removed valuables from his Beech Island home, hindering the appraisal of his estate, due by mid-April.

The legal challenges have been a "distraction," Probate attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. said, but appraisals are still being conducted.

"Will contests are unfortunately not unusual," Mr. Thurmond said. "There is no right to inheritance in South Carolina."

Mr. Dallas hinted that more courtroom fights would be sparked when asked about a provision in the singer's estate that vows to exclude anyone in the will who contests it. The clause states that anyone who contests his will or the trust "shall forfeit his or her entire interest."

"Mr. Brown made that decision," Mr. Dallas said.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.

POSSIBLE PROGRESS

Attorneys involved in the case say there are various potential outcomes after today's hearing.

Judge Early could:

- Refuse to remove the trustees and leave things as they are

- Appoint a special administrator to work with the trustees

- Remove the trustees and name someone to take their place

- Come up with a ''hybrid resolution,'' as probate attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. said could happen

THE PLAYERS

LOUIS LEVENSON - Atlanta attorney

He represents the six children listed in James Brown's will - Terry Brown, Larry Brown, Daryl Brown, Venisha Brown, Deanna J. Brown Thomas and Yamma Brown Lumar - and a number of grandchildren.

His clients want the three men James Brown named as executors of his will removed and a special administrator appointed to oversee the estate.

The children allege that Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon have mismanaged the late singer's estate and are trying to sell his music rights.

ROBERT ROSEN - Charleston attorney

Represents Tomi Rae Hynie Brown, the music legend's fourth wife. Locked out of his Beech Island estate after he died on Christmas Day, Mrs. Brown and her 5-year-old son, James Brown II, were not mentioned in his will. It was drafted more than a year before the couple married and nearly 10 months before their son was born.

Buddy Dallas has questioned the legality of her marriage and the paternity of her son. Mrs. Brown was married to a Pakistani man when she married the singer, but Mr. Rosen said a Charleston judge ruled that first marriage "void from the start."

She has contested his will and is asking for part of his estate as his "omitted spouse" and has demanded access to the Beech Island home to retrieve her and her son's belongings.

She also wants a special administrator appointed to oversee the estate but has not asked that Mr. Brown's longtime advisers be removed as his personal representatives.

BUDDY DALLAS - Augusta attorney and longtime adviser to James Brown

Along with David Cannon and Alford Bradley - who also worked for the late singer for many years - Mr. Dallas was named as Mr. Brown's "personal repre-sentative," or executor of his will. The three men are also "trustees" of two trusts set up by Mr. Brown: The James Brown I Feel Good Trust and the James Brown Family Education Trust. Six of Mr. Brown's children want the three men removed and a special administrator appointed to oversee the estate. They've been accused of mismanaging the estate and endangering his music rights.

Mr. Dallas said the children just want control of the trust - which includes the music rights - and are violating their father's wishes.

STROM THURMOND JR. - Aiken attorney

Hired to probate Mr. Brown's will.

Comments (23) Add comment
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a2
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a2 02/09/07 - 06:05 am
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This article is too long to

This article is too long to read this early in the morning.

EdithPiaf
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EdithPiaf 02/09/07 - 08:05 am
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go team tomi rae!!

go team tomi rae!!

a2
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a2 02/09/07 - 09:35 am
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Team Tomi Rae in the

Team Tomi Rae in the house!!!!!!!!!!!

selfab
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selfab 02/09/07 - 10:17 am
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Just proves again that we

Just proves again that we have too many lawyers. They have to keep things stirred up so they can make a living. If Mr. Dallas was such a good lawyer and an advisor to Mr. Brown, he would have taken care of his marriage to Ms. Hynie so this would not have been a problem. But then again, that's another way for him to get more money.

gaonmimynd
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gaonmimynd 02/09/07 - 10:58 am
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go team tomi rae, im in

go team tomi rae, im in savannah right now,, getting ready togo to augusta tomarrow to see my parents and sister....but I AM IN THE HOUSE.....

georgiadawg1
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georgiadawg1 02/09/07 - 11:06 am
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Let the circus officially

Let the circus officially begin, all the chimps and monkeys will be coming out for this one. This whole thing is an absolute disgrace to the late James Brown. Bottom line, a person's WILL is THEIR WISHES for how things are to be dispursed and NO ONE can argue with that. Mr. Brown worked hard his whole life to amass great financial wealth and it's HIS DECISION what happens to it. Not his children's, not some lawyer from Atlanta or Charleston, not even his trustees and executors Dallas and Company (all they are doing is abiding by and executing HIS wishes). If JB wanted to liquidate all of his assets into cash and pile it in one huge pile on his front lawn and set it on fire IT'S HIS DECISION BECAUSE IT'S HIS MONEY! These disgraceful children and Tomi Ray should respect his WRITTEN WILL that he made and abide by it. I think it will be absolutely hillarious if when this is all over the children end up getting NOTHING, NADA because they decided to contest his will despite his written clause warning against doing such a thing. His children are greedy, lazy, and worthless and Tomi Ray is a golddigger.

GO TEAM DALLAS!

NEone
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NEone 02/09/07 - 11:20 am
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@mjmurphy: It will never

@mjmurphy: It will never happen that way because it makes too much sense. And where would the drama be?

KLD108
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KLD108 02/09/07 - 11:22 am
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Hello Team Tomi Rae---What's

Hello Team Tomi Rae---What's up gaonmimynd----Well here we go!!!! CNN is going crazy with all these stories...Now, gaonmimynd I see mjmurphy is a little ticked---lol....yes a person's Will is their wishes, but come on, those lawyers weren't looking out for JB...because like it was said, JB was all over the world performing and if Dallas had any good intentions he would have had it updated to include Tomi & her son and also made sure there wasn't any question to the validity of their marriage, BUT, Dallas and the other sat back, because they knew JB was going to pass on one day and they'd be living off his hard work. The children, well, today I don't have anything to say. If they are removing items from the house, one of them should first of all stand up AND BURY THEIR FATHER!!! and allow Tomi to collect her belongings as well as her sons. Justice will prevail!!!

GO TEAM TOMI RAE!!!

KLD108
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KLD108 02/09/07 - 11:23 am
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gaonmimynd----stop by the

gaonmimynd----stop by the funeral home to check on the remains---we're getting rumors up here in buffalo his body has been beaten!!! enough now there are jokes about his remains!!! this is so sad!

KLD108
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KLD108 02/09/07 - 11:41 am
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I'm out until we hear the

I'm out until we hear the verdict---I'm in mourning about Anna Nicole Smith---seriously!

GO TEAM TOMI RAE!!

HomegirlWATCHINGFRMAFAR
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HomegirlWATCHINGFRMAFAR 02/09/07 - 11:45 am
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Twas said that JB"s body's

Twas said that JB"s body's still intact but what about his SPIRIT? This is awful! Laywers obviously weren't keeping James' best interests in mind. If that were true, there wouldn't be this much confusion! We all have to answer for our actions in the end...Woe to him who knows and does not do (right)! Lawdhammercy!

HomegirlWATCHINGFRMAFAR
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HomegirlWATCHINGFRMAFAR 02/09/07 - 11:45 am
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Twas said that JB"s body's

Twas said that JB"s body's still intact but what about his SPIRIT? This is awful! Laywers obviously weren't keeping James' best interests in mind. If that were true, there wouldn't be this much confusion! We all have to answer for our actions in the end...Woe to him who knows and does not do (right)! Lawdhammercy!

prettybird2
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prettybird2 02/09/07 - 11:46 am
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Another new cheerleader for

Another new cheerleader for Team Tomi Rae !!! Have been following it all on artharris.com as well as the Augusta Chronical site now since y'all alerted us of Art's site. Great site. By the way -- will Art be in town to support Tomi Rae for today's hearing ? Hope so. Did anyone read James Brown's memoir "I FEEL GOOD" ? His talking about his love for Tomi Rae -- the gap in their ages and how people might react and the comparison to Anna Nicole Smith [ pages 232 -234 ] and her marriage. He said he felt it was important to be with someone who understands your life and he felt Anna understood her husbands and because Tomi was a musician she understood his [ to paraphrase ]. In view of Anna's sad death yesterday [ with all her inheritance from her husbands estate still unresolved -- and ok there were a lot of other stuff too -- but !!! ], let's make sure Tomi Rae knows she has people who value and support her as the wife/partner/lover of James Brown [ as James Brown did ]. So gooooooo team Tomi Rae !!

whatashame
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whatashame 02/09/07 - 11:58 am
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Has Mr. Brown been buried

Has Mr. Brown been buried yet???? Did I miss something? They are all only thinkingof what kind of money they will get and it won't matter because they still won't be satisfied. Damn shame. Mrs. Brown needs her childs things as well as what was hers, now she should be able to get that. This is just sad to see these folks fighting over material things. Would this be happening if their father wasn't wealthy? Do they really care that he dead? Do they really miss him? Can't tell can you. Because if that was the case money would be the last thing on their minds.

warmheart
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warmheart 02/09/07 - 12:53 pm
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this should teach all women

this should teach all women to take care of their buisness.make sure all papers are in order so things like this won't happen.

kiddspur
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kiddspur 02/09/07 - 01:49 pm
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give all the money and let

give all the money and let them work for it like Brown had to to earn what he made.

MackCoCo
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MackCoCo 02/09/07 - 03:26 pm
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Mr Brown's body is still

Mr Brown's body is still intact...does that mean the funeral director or someone checks it on a daily basis? This whole thing is very sad. Based on comments, Tomi and James must have clothes and toys in the house. One thing for sure is that Tomi and James should at least be allowed to pick up those items, such as clothes and toys, that are rightfully theirs.

KLD108
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KLD108 02/09/07 - 05:07 pm
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oooooodoggie---what a

oooooodoggie---what a mess!!!!

go tomi, go tomi, get your clothes, get your shoes, get your toys!!!---go team tomi rae---3:00 p.m. be there to get what's yours!!!!

i'm joking, but this is saaaaadddddd!!! what's up with holding the bodies out so long? now anna too!!! it's time to pray----have a good weekend- ya'll hear??

a2
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a2 02/09/07 - 07:30 pm
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mjmurphy, right back at you.

mjmurphy, right back at you. Get your butt out of this house and go home and take a swig of that big ole "icehouse 12 pack. Get on a site for" Big ( money grubbing, looking out for himself, scndalizing everyones' name) D". Oh I forgot, he doesn't have a site because no one likes or supports him.
We're all up in your face. How you like us now?

TEAM TOMI RAE IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

a2
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a2 02/09/07 - 07:38 pm
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We luv you prettybird2.

We luv you prettybird2. Welcome to the team! Thanks for suiting up girl.
KLD108, Sympathy to you from last time when you told us that story about your relative.
Shout out to Yankeesfan and gaonmymind. Where's Devaughn?
By the way, you all know me, I've just morphed into another name.
I'll be back for the next article, unless some jr. wannabe [filtered word] me off in these columns.

WW1949
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WW1949 02/10/07 - 11:01 am
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mjmurphy, I agree with you

mjmurphy, I agree with you about the will. When I die and leave my estate to someone it's what I wanted and not for anyone to second guess and I probably will leave more cash than Mr. Brown. HE was a high roller and big spender. I however, think that his young son should come before any of his older children and even Tomi Rae. The DNA tests have to be done on all the children to make sure they his family. A man with 4 wives most likely was not true to all and vice versa.

dejavudonna
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dejavudonna 02/10/07 - 01:27 pm
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Well, well, the circus does

Well, well, the circus does indeed begin. I agree with mjmurphy. I myself had to bury my spouse three years ago and he had written everythng down. His children knew what it was and left me alone. James Brown was such a great man and now to have all this greed and bickering and taking of things from the home. Really sick, they have not put him in the ground and they are already robbing him. And besides it did not take Tomi Rae very long to make her money by selling her crude stories to the GLobe Magazine. I am sorry but she is a Golddigger. She knew how old he was when she married him I gues she must have calculated 67 plus another 10 and then he will be gone and it will be all mine. Bad calculation Tomi Rae, you did not severe yourself from that money making marriage to the PAKI did you. The man was a southern man with southern qualities. He said in his book affairs of a husband and wife is private. He is looking down and saying SHAME she sold me out to the magazine. When I buried my husband he was 75 he did not have a wrinkle on him. James is a good looking guy and died looking 10 years older t. REading into all this makes me feel like I know the man RIP JAmes Brown we love you.

diane.am
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diane.am 02/10/07 - 09:39 pm
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Oooh I do not think Dr James

Oooh I do not think Dr James Brown would feel good!!! about this nightmare drama. Those greedy for money can cause some serious haps. May the best man or women win... I will be following this drama. Lets take this whole situation as lessons learnt.

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